AGAIN IN BATTLE DRESS
The Department did not relish the merger of the unions and from the very beginning began to look upon the U.P.T.W with suspicion. The Department in fact became afraid of the strength of the U.P.T.W. That is why in spite of best efforts made by the Negotiating Committee, the Government did not accept the merger. As late as on the 16thof January, 1948, they accorded recognition to the U.P.T.W as a new Union. The bureaucracy wanted division in the camp and by using underhand methods could influence a small section of the members of the All India Postal and R.M.S Union to hold a conference, revived the All India Postal and R.M.S Union which got the recognition of the Government and began functioning in limited areas.
Amongst those who took leading part in reviving the All India Postal & R.M.S Union prominent were Shri. Raj Bahaur, Shri. Raghubans Sahai Srivastava and Shri Jathindra Nath Banerjee. In spite of all these facts, the Union of Posts and Telegraph Workers, which functioned for a period of 7 years was able to keep on records an account of its valuable services to the cause of the P&T workers. It was able to advance the movement and create enough potentiality amongst the members of the Union. The Indian Telegraph association and the Indian Posts and Telegraphs Union which were the only paying members of the Federation could foresee the danger of the Federation, which had not joined the merger, functioning as a rival to the U.P.T.W. It is therefore most wisely that Dr. G.Noronha and Com.M.A .Jabbar, two veteran trade unionist of India called a meeting of the Federation and dissolved it and informed the Government accordingly.
The Union of Post and Telegraph Workers began functioning with confidence. It attached a large number of non-members. It cannot be gainsaid that the great awakening that took place amongst the P&T workers in general as a result of July, 1946 strike helped a great deal in bringing the U.P.T.W into existence.
In-spite of the fact that the Postmen Union did not join the merger, the Union under the able leadership of Shri.V.G.Dalvi began to work in close co-operation with the U.P.T.W, both the Unions being affiliated during this period to the ALL India Trade Union Congress.
On the 14th November,1947, the Negotiating Committee appointed by the Merger Conference, under the leadership of Dr. G.Noronha, met Shri. Krishna Prasada, the Director General Posts and Telegraphs. The negotiating Committee made unsuccessful attempts to secure recognition of the U.P.T.W and get favourable reply on all the points embodied in the short-Term Demands including acceptance of Joshi- Sardar Mangal Singh recommendations on revision of scales of pay. 1947 ended in this way.
The Writers of the history of P&T trade union movement will however have to acknowledge that 1946 and 1947 were not only eventful years but also a turning period in the history of the P&T trade union movement.
1. The formation of the P&T Federation in January, 1946.
2. Serving of Strike Notice by the Federation in February, 1946;
3. Appointment of an Adjudicator;
4. An announcement by the Government in the Assembly on the 7-2-46 of appointment of a Pay Commission;
5. Hungry-Badge Campaign by the Postal and R.M.S workers on the 16th February,1946;
6. The historic July P&T strike (1946);
7. Evidence before the Pay Commission by different Unions and the Federation;
8. Independence of India (15th August, 1947);
9. Affiliation of All India Postal and R.M.S Union and Postmen & Lower Grade Staff Union with the All India Trade Union Congress(February 1947)
10. Merger of three P&T Unions resulting in formation of the Union of Posts and Telegraph Workers (13th August 1947)
are some of the very significant landmarks.
Let me put on record here that earlier on the 20th July, 1947, three weeks before partition of Bengal and Assam Provincial Branch at Dacca. In this meeting, we discussed all the problems which would arise as a result of partition of Bengal on the 15th August. In this meeting also I tendered my resignation from the post of General Secretary of the union which I was holding for full 15 years. In my resignation letter I made it clear that I was elected by the entire Bengal and Assam, so after partition and constitution of Assam as a separate Circle, I might not hold the confidence of truncated West Bengal. I however made it very clear that if the Unions in West Bengal would re-elect me, I would be glad to serve the Union. The Council accepted my resignation. Later on the Working Committee of the West Bengal Union unanimously re-elected me as General Secretary.
After the Merger conference was over, as per directive of the Co-ordinating Committee, Assam was separated from the rest of Bengal. Mr. Shamsul Hussain was appointed to organize a Provincial Union of the U.P.T.W. Mr. Hussain instead of forming a branch of the U.P.T.W organized a branch of the All India Postal and R.M.S Union. So in the November meeting of the Co-ordinating Committee held at Delhi, Shri. N.N.Bhattarcharjee of Gauhati was appointed with full power to hold a conference of the P&T workers of Assam with a view to forming a Provincial Branch of the U.P.T.W. In the first week of December, a conference was held and U.P.T.W came into being in Assam. The R.M.S. workers of Assam however preferred to remain aloof and later on joined the revived All India Postal & R.M.S Union.
Most of my energy during this period had to be spent in securing early posting of hundreds of P&T employees from East Bengal who had opted for India and were coming to West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and other places. It was a puzzle for me as to how to look to their interests, as I found that every one of them was wanting to be posted in Calcutta only.
The Postmen and Packer optees from North Bengal such as Rangpur and Dinajpur etc., were posted in Tanjore and Madurai whereas a large section of Postmen and Packers of Narayangaunja and Barisal were ordered to proceed to Kathiawar and so on. It was with great difficulties that those men could be accommodated in West Bengal.
My personal difficulties at that time were also enough. My own hearth and home which was in Barisal fell in East Pakistan. The motherless children of mine were there. I was in a fix as to how to bring them to Calcutta and under whose care they were to be kept.
In-spite of all these troubles, I could manage to have all the Branch Unions in West Bengal excepting the R.M.S ‘C’, ‘N’ , and ‘H’ Divisions changed over to U.P.T.W by April, 1948.
Since the day of merger till the first U.P.T.W. Conference which was held from the 23rd to 27th May, 1948 in Madras, I had to function as General secretary of both the All India Postal and R.M.S Union, and the U.P.T.W of Bengal. All India Postal and R.M.S Union, Calcutta Branch of which I was the primary member, changed over to U.P.T.W on the 18th of March 1948. As the R.M.S Union took decision not to change over to U.P.T.W., a large section of its’ members belonging to all the three divisions seceded from the parent Union and formed a branch of the U.P.T.W. But the things did not rest here. The All India Postal and R.M.S Union was already revived by the first week of January, 1948 at Allahabad. Therefore Shri. Jatindra Nath Banarjee, in May, 1948 started a new Branch of the All India Postal & R.M.S Union in Calcutta with a very few members within its fold.
The All India Postal and R.M.S Union which was merged with the U.P.T.W in a duly convened All India Conference, before the eyes of law ceased to exist. The Union of Post and Telegraph Workers raised objection to the revived Union being given recognition. On the 20th January, 1948, the Negotiating Committee of the U.P.T.W which waited in a deputation on the Hon’ble Minister, Shri.Rafi Ahamed Kidwai , pressed that recognition should not be granted to the revived union. Shri.Kidwai agreed to refer the matter to the Chief Labour Commissioner. Shri. H.L.Jerath, Sr. Dy.Director General , Posts and Telegraphs, was found from the very beginning to be sympathetic to this revived union and helped it in securing recognition. It is still a puzzle to many as to why Shri.Raj Bahadur and Shri.Raghuban Sahai Srivastava who were practically the sponsors of the unity move and took active part in bringing the U.P.T.W in to existence, backed out later on and revived the All India Postal and R.M.S.Union. This disruption from within perplexed many. In short, the revived All India Postal and R.M.S Union became, though not a menace, yet a head-ache to all of us.
The deputation with the Hon’ble Minister on the 29th January did not bear any fruit. Most of the demands embodied in the Short-Term Demands were not accepted. The Government was also found not to be in a mood to revise the dearness allowance according to the recommendation of the Pay Commission. Shri.Kidwai had already expressed inability to revise the dearness allowance to the representatives of the Federation and the All India Postmen and Lower Grade Staff Union.
The then Hon’ble Finance Minister, Shri.Shanmukham Chetty, rejected the demand for revision of dearness allowance in view of the fact that according to him there has not been enough of agitation to justify a change.
The P&T workers in general and the four major P&T Unions (including the Federation) once more felt the necessity of having joint front to have the dearness allowance increased and began thinking of organizing joint mass rallies at every station.
It is worth recording here that although the Federation of Posts and Telegraphs Unions was constitutionally dissolved, the Government pleaded ignorance of receipt of any intimation to that effect. The Federation continued to function, enjoying Government’s recognition. The unity which the Merger Conference planned to bring about in fact did not come to reality. It began functioning as one of the four major P&T trade unions. The main obstruction for achieving complete unity did not come from the workers but from a section of leaders. The National Government took advantage of our disunity and began to reject most of our demands like in the by-gone days.
By the end of March 1948 the Central Government employees in Calcutta took a decision to go on strike with effect from the 3rd April, 1948, the main demand being absorption of the temporary staff. At that time in the P&T Department in Calcutta there were nearly 7,000 temporary officials. Nobody knew when they would be absorbed. The entire temporary staff became restive at the news that all the Central Government employees in Calcutta were preparing for strike on the demand of their permanent absorption in the Department and utmost pressure was put on me to secure Government orders for absorption of all the temporary P&T employees of Calcutta as well as of the rest of West Bengal.
On the 27th of March, along with Shri.Rai Krishna Banerjee, I met Mr. Sherard Smith, the Post Master General W.Bengal Circle and told him:
“The Central Government employees would go on strike with effect from the 3rd April unless they were permanently absorbed in the service on or before that date. The P&T workers who are temporary have become restless; they are also likely to leave their desks on and from the 3rd April and if they would adopt such a course, the others with a view to show sympathy to them all also follow suit. I would request you to bring a favourable reply within three days from Delhi if you want that there should be no dislocation in the P&T service in Calcutta and Bengal.”
Mr.Smith who was to start for Darjeeling on the very date, cancelled his tour. He called a camera meeting with some of the P&T Union leaders on the 1st of April and sought their help. It is needless to say that none from the U.P.T.W was called in this meeting. On the 1st April, a veteran leader of the All India Telegraph Union issued a press statement describing my threats held out to be a mischievous one and appealed to all P&T workers of Calcutta not to be misguided by the threats held out by the U.P.T.W leaders and in the same breath assured all help to the Government. Dewan Chaman Lal and Shri. H.L.Jerath, Dy.D.G.P&T came down to Calcutta on the 3rd of April. Two big meeting were arranged, one in the Indian Association Hall and the other in the St.Pauls School where all Officers and Union Leaders and members were present and played the part of mutual admiration society. None belonging to the U.P.T.W was invited in these meetings. There was a rumour afoot on the 3rd April that I would be arrested. Nothing like that happened. We organized a mass meeting on the 2nd April under the president-ship of Shri. Mrinal Kanti Bose demanding absorption of all temporaries. Shri.Jarath invited me on the 4th April and assured me that all the temporaries of Bengal would be absorbed. As they were in the Defence of India Corps, they would get the benefit of war service. There the matter ended.
As the Government in spite of the best efforts made by the U.P.T.W. and the other P&T Unions could not be forced either to increase the dearness allowance or to concede the Short-Term Demands, the first All India Conference of the U.P.T.W which was held in Madras from the 24th to 27th May, 1948, adopted the following resolution:
“ If in spite of the incalculable self sacrifice that the P&T staff have voluntarily taken upon themselves as per above, the Govt. fail to accede to the Short-Term Demands within three months, this conference directs the Supreme Council of the Union to initiate all possible measures for realizing these demands by obtaining the view of the mass of members through a referendum or through the issue of a strike-ballot.
“The Conference request all other Unions in the P&T Department to pass similar resolutions on the Short-Term Demands to put pressure upon the Government and directs the General Secretary of the U.P.T.W to negotiate immediately with them for the formation of a Joint Council of Action and call upon all Provincial and District Branches and the General membership to fully prepare themselves for all eventualities to achieve cent per cent membership of the Union and raise necessary funds for a life and death struggle.”
The All India Postal & R.M.S Union was affiliated to the All India Trade Union Congress. So I was continuing to serve as a member of the Central Council of the T.U.C and also a member of the B.P.T.U.C Working Committee as well as Council.
The first session of the U.P.T.W. took a decision not to affiliate itself to any of the trade union centres but to function independently. The Indian National Trade Union Congress and the All India Trade Union Congress were the two trade union centres in the country at that time. Thus my connection with the A.I.T.U.C and B.P.T.U.C come to an end.
The Madras session of the Conference of the U.P.T.W adopted a comprehensive programme for
1. Raising membership to 50,000;
2. Collection of Emergency Fund of Rs. 25000/-;
3. Formation of Joint council of Action at all levels with the sister unions.
All present in the Conference took a pledge to fulfil the above task by the 13th of August which was the anniversary date of the U.P.T.W. It was also accepted by all that the coming struggle would be one for achieving acceptance of the Short-Term Demands and revision of rates of dearness allowance in accordance with the Central Pay Commission’s recommendations. The resolution adopted by the Madras Conference was practically an ultimatum to the Government to the effect that in case the demands were not fulfilled within three months, strike ballot would be taken.
The Government’s reply on the Short-Term Demands was considered by all to be most unsatisfactory. Therefore the Working Committee and the Supreme Council of the Union of Posts and Telegraphs Workers met at Delhi from the 5th to 8th September to decide further programme of action. The Supreme Council after full four days deliberations took a decision for taking strike ballot to be completed by the 25th of December, 1948. On the question of taking ballot, the House was found to equally divided. The decision for ballot was taken by a majority of one vote. I had recorded my vote against ballot. If I remember a right, I had expressed a definite opinion to take every possible step to prepare a common Charter of Demands by all the Unions together and to form joint council of action before the Council could think of any direct action.
This important session of the Supreme Council which concluded with the decision for taking strike ballot was attended by all the Councillors. Prominent among those who took part in the deliberations were Coms. K .Ramamurthy, K.S.Pitkar, M.A.Jabbar, A.P.Thulasiram, G.P.Gopal, Om Prakash Gupta, B.S.Kamble, Rai Krishna Banarjee and A.S.Rajan. The most important part of the session was that after the ballot was accepted by a majority of vote, the entire house accepted it and all without exception gave a pledge to work sincerely for making the strike ballot a success and to implement the entire programme chalked out by the Madras Conference.
After the Supreme Council of the U.P.T.W. took the decision for strike ballot, the pressure from the rank and file of the P&T workers who were members of different P&T unions became all the more greater for joint action as a result of which the leaders of the Federation, the Postmen and Lower Grade Staff Union and the U.P.T.W. after a heart to heart discussion, came to the following agreement for such an action:-
1. The Federation and the Postmen Union agree that a Joint Council should be formed with representatives of all three organizations namely, the Federation, The Postmen Union and the U.P.T.W. for the purpose of joint action. Formation of such a joint council assumes that the demands on the basis of which action is contemplated will be common and previously agreed upon.
2. The U.P.T.W. agrees that its representatives will join the other two organizations in a deputation to the Prime Minister sometime early in the second week of December, 1948. It is agreed that if the interview proves to be unsatisfactory, all the three organizations will proceed to take strike ballot to be completed by the 15th January, 1949. It is further agreed that the ballot should be taken by all the organizations at the same time.
3. The actual composition of the Joint Council will be decided later.
The agreement was signed by Messrs. V.G.Dalvi, J.N.Banerjee, J.C.Shyam, S.S.Kavalekar, Om Praksh Gupta, M.A.Jabbar and R.S.Sreevastava.
It was further decided that a joint deputation of those three organizations will wait on the Prime Minister on the following demands:
1. Revision of rates of dearness Allowance
2. Confirmation of temporaries;
3. Appointment of Anomalies Committee;
4. Publication of Expert Committee report;
5. Sanction of strike period pay;
And the deputation be led by Shri. Jayaprakash Narayan.
Shortly after the agreement was signed, most encouraging was the fact that the All India Council of Postmen & Lower Grade Staff Union which also met during the first week of October at Delhi under the able leadership of shri.V.G.Dalvi, the General Secretary and Shri.Jayaprakash Narayan, The President of the Union, took a decision for taking strike ballot side by side and along with the U.P.T.W., and also gave full authority to the Provincial Unions to form joint councils of action with the U.P.T.W. and ratified the agreement. It is a historic fact that the Postmen had never hesitated to come forward to join the struggle.
The Joint deputation under the leadership of Shri. Jaya Prakash Narayan met the Prime Minister on the 10th December 1948. A joint meeting of representatives of all the Unions and the Federation was held at the Y.M.C.A hall on the very date. Shri.Narayan made a report on the result of the deputation. The result was considered by all to be unsatisfactory.
While in every corner of the country the workers had been advancing the cause by collecting funds, enrolling members and forming joint Councils of Action, just to divert the attention there came a proposal from Shri. Rafi Ahammed Kidwai, the Minister for Communications, for realignment of unions. He invited all the unions at Delhi on the 22nd October, 1948. A section of the representatives of the U.P.T.W was found in favour of realignment scheme while the others were opposed to it. The Government move for realignment was only to divert the attention of the P&T workers from strike ballot to realignment.
All the representatives of 14 All India Unions after full two days discussion agreed to the following scheme for realignment of unions and put their signatures on the draft scheme and also agreed to surrender voluntarily their recognition. It was also decided on the spot that the representatives of all unions will communicate their ratification by the 31st April 1949. The meeting also formed a Realignment Committee with Shri.V.G.Dalvi as convener. According to this scheme, there should be only nine unions on the following basis:
1. All India Post Office Union of Class III Employees;
2. All India Post Office Union of Class IV Employees;
3. All India R.M.S Union of Class III Employees;
4. All India R.M.S. Union of Class IV Employees;
5. All India Telegraph Traffic Union of Class III Employees;
6. All India Telegraph Traffic Union of Class IV Employees;
7. All India Telegraph Engineering Union of Class III employees;
8. All India Telegraph Engineering Union of Class IV Employees;
9. All India Administrative Offices Association.
The scheme provided that the nine unions shall form themselves into a Federation both at the Central and Provincial levels.
Most of the unions however on going back to their respective headquarters backed out of the agreement which they had signed before the Hon’ble Minister. Some of the unions submitted to the Government revised schemes and some rejected the scheme for realignment altogether.
How the scheme was received by the U.P.T.W leadership can be well imagined from some of the statements quoted below:
Com. A.P.Thulasiram; “We should work out the scheme.”
Com.B.S.Kamble; “It will create perpetual scheme.”
Com. A.S.Rajan, Asst.General Secretary, U.P.T.W Postal Wing: “ You have not explained fully, as I presume, the problem of realignment vis-à-vis the strike ballot resolution. Does it go by default? Or put in cold storage for the time being with provision to revoke the same at a future date? Or will this problem be another wild goose chase? Why the Government have taken this question at this juncture specially when the U.P.T.W and the Postmen Union have passed a resolution for a strike ballot?”
Shri.R.E.Dunsten , Asst.General Secretary, U.P.T.W, R.M.S. Wing: “ Scheme can be worked out”
The statement which issued as published in THE TELEPOST, was with the following headline; IT WILL BRING STAGNANCY TO ALL OUR MOVEMENTS and the statement runs as follows:
“If the proposed scheme takes a definite shape and comes into a reality, it will separate a porter from a sorter, a postmen from a post office clerk… and ultimately all Post and Telegraph employees from one another …..P & T staff ….should rise to the occasion and counteract the move and the scheme which if given effect to, would instead of bringing solidarity amongst the employees, create dissension and disruption amongst the rank and file of the employees.
THE ONE UNION move of ours through U.P.T.W. in spite of sharp opposition from all quarters has gained much in strength during one year of its existence and we expect to do much more in the coming year. It would be suicidal to accept realignment by the U.P.T.W.
“It will bring stagnancy to our movement concerning staff welfare. I, therefore, appeal to all, be the a members of the U.P.T.W or any other Union to reject this scheme for realignment and accept the principle of One Union for one Service or else our future is doomed.”
It is not yet all clear to me if Com. Om Prakash Gupta, The General Secretary of the U.P.T.W was in favour of realignment scheme or against it. It is amazing that Com. M.A.Jabbar and Com. K.S Pitkar attended the realignment meeting called by the Hon,ble Minister as representatives of the Indian Posts and Telegraphs Union and the All India Postal and R.M.S Union which was revived and was being run by a different set of leadership.
The Supreme Council of the U.P.T.W. was to take a definite decision to go either with the Government scheme of realignment or the strike Ballot in a meeting to be held in Calcutta from the 7th to 9th November, 1948. The venue was however changed to Delhi. The Council met from the 9th to 12th December 1948.
The realignment conference which met on the 22nd October, 1948 at the instance of Shri. Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, had elected Shri. V.G.Dalvi as convener of the Realignment Committee. The Committee met at Bombay on the 22nd November, 1948. As they could not come to any unanimous understanding about realignment, the question was practically thrown to the cold storage. Some had suggested that there should be 5 Central Unions while others suggested 9 unions under the scheme. The representatives of the Union of P&T Workers, the Federation and the Postmen Union had however, utilized this occasion for discussing the question relating to formation of Joint Council and for signing the agreement which has already been mentioned previously.
The very news of the signing of the agreement by the leaders of the Union of P&T Workers, the Federation and the Postmen Union jointly fighting for the realization of the demands created a sensation amongst the P&T workers throughout India.
The Supreme Council of the Union of P&T Workers which met at Delhi from the 9th to 12th December, 1948, unanimously passed the following two resolutions, one on strike Ballot and the other on the Realignment Scheme.
“This meeting of the Supreme Council of the Union of P&T Workers regrets that as a consequence of the failure on the part of the Postmen and Lower Grade staff Union to ratify the decision for the formation of the Joint Council of Action, a situation has arisen which compels the UPTW, to implement the Strike Ballot resolution adopted at the September session of the supreme Council and therefore resolves that the said resolution be implemented with the proviso that the strike ballot be completed by the 15th January, 1949. “This Supreme council further desires to convey to Sister Unions the readiness of the Union of P&T Workers to form Joint Council of Action.
“This meeting of the Supreme Council directs the Working Committee to chalk out a programme and issue suitable instructions immediately”.
The second resolution reads as follows:
“In view of the Strike Ballot decision adopted by the Supreme Council of the Union of P&T Workers and in view of the fact that the unsatisfactory procedure adopted and the manner in which the whole of the realignment scheme is being worked out, this meeting of the Supreme Council of the U.P.T.W opines that the consideration of the realignment scheme be postponed till the next Annual General Conference of the U.P.T.W, and directs that the representatives of this Union, Comrades Om Prakash Gupta and M.A.Jabbar, on the constitution Committee be withdrawn from the said committee immediately”
Com. A.P.Thulasiram who was presiding over the Session closed the meeting with the following concluding remarks:
“I really feel proud for having presided over this session where the honour and prestige of the Union has been maintained. I have always been a worker and never called myself a leader. I am prepared even to lay my life at the altar of the Union. My only appeal is organize, close up the ranks and stand as one. Workers of the world unite.”
With great jubilation, the Strike Ballot was conducted by the Union of P&T Workers and the Postmen Union separately and it was completed by the 15th January, 1949. 90% of the members had voted in favour of strike.
In spite of the fact that the Prime Minister had said a definite ‘No’ to the joint deputation with regard to increase in dearness allowance, the result of the strike ballot frightened the Government. On the 18th of January the Government of India declared for increase of Rs.10/- in dearness allowance for all the employees.
The Working Committee of the Union of P&T Workers met at New Delhi from the 22nd to 28th January,1949. This continuous session of the Working Committee from every point of view was a fateful one. It had been convened to consider the result of the strike ballot and to chalk out further programme. The following members of the Working Committee were present:
1. Com. Janak
2. “ Sham Niwas
3. “ V.S.Menon
4. “ Soman Varma
5. “ Om Prakash Kapur
6. “ D.K.Guha
7. “ A.P.Singh
8. “ V.P.Menon
9. “ S.L.Tiwari
10. “ R.E.Dunstan
11. “ K.Ramamurthy
12. “ A.S.Rajan
13. “ Guranditta Mal
14. “ C.D.Mahadevan
15. “ Hem Chandra
16. “ K.M.Pol
17. “ K.S.Pitkar
18. “ G.P.Gopal
19. “ Om P.Gupta
Besides these members, the following were also present:
1. Com. A.P.Thulasiram
2. “ C.M.Paripurnam
3. “ M.A.Jabbar
4. “ Kailash Nath Sharma
5. “ P.K.Bhujanga Rao
6. “ B.S.Kamble
7. “ Vaidya
8. “ G.K.Joshi
The Working Committee after obtaining reports of the representatives of the different Circles took a decision for serving the Government with a strike notice. The members of the Working Committee were sharply divided on this issue. The Committee by a casting vote of the Chairman of the meeting, G.P.Gopal, adopted the following resolution on the 26th January 1949;
“Whereas the Government of India have callously turned down even the minimum short term demands of the Union of Posts and Telegraph Workers, arising mainly out of the implementation of the pay commissions recommendations e.g, modification of the unjust and irrational method of re-fixation of pay in the prescribed scales, removal of all anomalies arising as a consequence of re-fixation of pay, restoration of special, local and compensatory allowances, adequate compensation for performance of duties involving technical skill , arduousness etc. grant of house rent and compensatory allowance according to the present population levels, payment of tuition fees, establishment of service tribunals etc., and such other legitimate demands like revision of unsatisfactory scales of pay confirmation of all temporary employees, immediate publication of the Expert Committee’s report, acceptance of the Unions’ recommendation in regard to duty hours, weekly offs, overtime outstation and extra duty allowances etc., removal of anomalies arising out of departmentalization of Telephone Districts, revision of allowances of Extra Departmental Agents, departmentalization of casual and daily rated labour etc.
“Whereas the Government ‘s measures to combat inflation have helped only the vested interest and have inflicted untold hardships on the employees,
“Where as the Government have failed to honour even their own commitments to revise the dearness allowance according to the recommendation of the Central pay Commission in spite of the abnormal increase in the cost of living and have only aggravated the situation by denying full relief in the name of disinflation;
“Whereas the Government instead of affording the much needed relief to the Employees have indulged in un-remunerative scheme and needless creation of many highly paid posts and upgrading of posts resulting in a top-heavy administration;
“Whereas the P&T Administration represented by the officers have at every stage tried to retard the development of the trade union movement in the P&T Department, interfered with and denied the fundamental right of the association and meetings, and embarked upon a policy of victimization of active union workers by such indirect methods as transfers, punishments etc.
“Whereas the P&T Administration have remained indifferent even in the redressal of minor grievances of the employees and provision of such essential amenities as ventilated sanitary and adequate accommodation for P&T Offices including mail vans, dormitory and rest houses, tiffin rooms, heating arrangements in cold weather, supply of drinking water, uniforms etc.,
“Whereas the Government have failed to solve the problems of providing residential accommodation for the employees;
“Whereas the Government have not adopted expeditious measures for the rehabilitation of refugee staff;
“Whereas the P&T Administration have spurned the offer of co-operation of the Union in regard to improvement of efficiency of the service and removal of the root causes for inefficiency wherever it may exist, and have refused to democratize the service and protect the employees from ill-treatment and harassment;
“Whereas repeated negotiations with the Government culminating in the interview with the Prime Minister have utterly failed and have not in the least bettered the lot of the employees;
And, in as much as, through the result of the strike ballot held by the Union during the period 9th to 15th January, 1949 in pursuance of the resolution adopted at the All India Conference, 1948 sessions of the Supreme Council, an overwhelming majority of the members of the Union have given a verdict in favour of strike action as the only means to secure fulfillment of the Union’s demands,
“This meeting of the Working Committee, after a mature consideration of all the issues involved, resolves that the General Secretary be directed to serve a notice of strike on the Director General, Posts and Telegraphs on the 1st February 1949 in accordance with the provisions of the law of the land, intimating the Director General, that in the event of the failure of the Government to fulfil the Union’s demands, the strike shall commence on the 9th March, 1949.”
The Executive Council of the All India Postmen and Lower Grade Staff Union which met in Delhi on the 26th and 27th January, 1949, however adopted the following resolution:
“While giving its careful consideration to the declaration of the Government of India, for an increase of Rs.10/- in the Dearness Allowance to all its employees, this session of the Executive Council of the All India Postmen and Lower Grade(including R.M.S) Staff Union, regrets that the announcement of Rs.10/- fails short of the demands of the Postmen and Lower Grade staff to implement the recommendations of the Central Pay Commission Report by linking up dearness allowance with the existing price level.
“This session reiterating Bombay Conference decision and more so taking into stock volume of opinion of provincial Unions in favor of a strike, having not arrived at an amicable settlement with the Government of India, resolves to hold another sitting of the Council on February 13 at New Delhi to hold a scrutiny of the strike ballot.
“This session further resolves that if the results of the strike ballot go in favour of a strike, the Council would accordingly fix up the date for giving the strike notice enabling the members to launch a country-wide strike in the 3rd week of March, 1949.
“Resolved that the 34 demands charter passed at the last Bombay Conference of the Union form the basis of the notice of strike to be served on Government of India.”
The Federation of P&T Unions headed by Shri. Raghubans Sahai Srivastava , Shri.P.C.Chatterjee and Shri. J.N.Banerjee could not give any definite opinion whether their respective Unions would fall in link with the Union of P&T Workers. Shri.J.C.Shyam one of the signatories to the agreement, was absent from the scene. Therefore the Federation backed out of the agreement.
As per decision of the Working Committee of the Union of P&T Workers, Com.Om Prakash Gupta, the General Secretary of the Union served the Director General, Posts and Telegraphs with the following strike notice:
UNION OF THE POSTS AND TELEGRAPH WORKERS.
NO.AIG/ST New Delhi
1st February 1949
Mr.KrishnaPrasada,C.I.E,I.C.S,J.P., DirectorGeneral,Posts and Telegraphs New Delhi.
In pursuance of the resolution adopted by the Working Committee of the Union of P&T Workers, a copy of which is enclosed, I hereby give you notice on behalf of the UNION OF P&T WORKERS that my Union proposes to call a strike of the P&T Department employees from the 9th March, 1949 for the satisfaction of the demands enumerated in annexure ‘A’ to this notice. My Union regrets that the Department and the Government have failed to do anything to satisfy the pressing demands of the workers in spite of repeated requests. The patience of the employees has been put to a severe test, but they have done everything for an amicable settlement. The Government having thwarted all the attempts for a settlement the Union was compelled to organize a strike ballot in which workers gave their verdict in favour of a strike.
My Union deems it necessary to state that it is the inaction, indifference and obduracy of the Government which are forcing the strike on the workers and no threats can deflect the strike unless their demands set forth in the accompanying annexure are met before the date fixed for the strike.
Copy forwarded to;
1. The Chief Labour Commissioner, Government of India, New Delhi.
2. The Chief Conciliation officer, Government of India, New Delhi.
The following demands were embodied in the annexure to the strike notice:
1. A suitable machinery to formulate a wage structure based on the principle of social security;
2. Acceptance of Expert Committee’s recommendations;
3. Immediate issue of orders on Part II of the Pay Commission’s Report;
4. Establishment of Service Tribunals;
5. Efficiency board should be set up;
6. Acceptance of Joshi Mangal Singh scales of pay
7. Higher scales of pay to skilled artisans;
8. Wireless staff be paid on par with those in the C.A.D;
9. Industrial workers be paid same scales as their counter –parts in the Railways;
10. Pay Commission’s recommendations in regard to grant of remuneration to E.D. staff should be implemented. E.D.S.P.Ms and E.D.B.P.Ms be granted a house rent allowance and contingent allowance;
11. Good Conduct Pay;
12. Fixation formula whichever is beneficial to the pre-31 officials to be evolved; the pay of the post- 31 officials should be re-fixed on a point to point basis;
13. Setting up of an Anomalies Committee;
14. Revision of Dearness Allowance;
15. House Rent Allowance should be based on present population basis;
16. Special Allowance at certain stations for special reasons;
17. T.A and D.A to Linemen;
18. Suitable measures for rehabilitation of refugee staff;
19. Confirmation of all temporaries etc.;
20. Abolition of the system of casual labour;
21. Ban on marriage imposed on women workers be removed;
22. Period of training be treated as duty;
23. Unification of Telegraph Services;
24. Status quo ante to be restored in the matter of promotion to L.S.G;
25. Upgrading of posts of T.S Supervisors etc.
26. Reduction in jurisdiction of the Sub-Division of I.P.Os and I.R.M.S;
27. Revision of Time Test;
28. Appointment of a committee to resolve anomalies arising from the departmentalization of Telephone District. (to be continued)